November 23, 2014

We are a union on the move

By UTU International President Mike Futhey

We are a union on the move, growing stronger financially and adding new members through aggressive organizing.

In addition to organizing 300 pilots and flight attendants at Great Lakes Airlines recently, we have authorization cards from a majority of the 110 pilots at Lynx Aviation. We are talking with pilots and flight attendants at other airlines, as well as bus operators on unorganized properties and employees of short line railroads.

Indeed, we are a union on the move — in organizing, defending existing agreements, and having our voice heard in Washington and state capitols.

While the Rail Safety Improvement Act is not everything we sought, we were able to achieve conductor certification, a deadline for implementation of positive train control, and a provision for general chairpersons to negotiate a better balance between new hours-of-service limitations and earnings.

I have appointed a UTU team to work with the FRA, other labor organizations and carriers in drafting conductor certification standards.

I have created a UTU Rail Transportation Safety Team to deal directly with the FRA in the face of an unacceptable spike in on-duty employee fatalities and career-ending injuries. Jointly with the BLET, we filed a petition with the FRA seeking an emergency order prohibiting the use of one-person crews in conventional and remote-control operations.

We are working with others in transportation labor to gain legislation eliminating flight-crew fatigue and to bring flight attendants under protections of OSHA.

Through the AFL-CIO, we are pushing for changes in commercial driver’s license regulations that subject bus operators to loss of their jobs if they receive citations while operating personal automobiles. We also are working to gain legislation requiring improved crash-resistance buses, uniform driver-training standards, and required training in dealing with abusive and threatening passengers.

The UTU is growing financially stronger owing to new cost containment controls and conservative investment policies, with our general fund balance up 90 percent since January 2008. UTUIA earnings have been growing each quarter, and the UTUIA has a $23 million surplus. And our DIPP claims no longer exceed premiums.

Officers at every level are benefitting from iLink features, and the UTU University is providing members with online educational opportunities that will continue to be expanded.

This administration remains true to its pledge of two-way communication. We invite your comments and suggestions and we will continue to provide leadership messages posted at www.utu.org.